Teachers reach tentative settlement 

New contract to expire in 2012

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOERN ROHDE

The BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) and the province have reached a tentative agreement after a year-long labour dispute which had left over 40,000 teachers without a contract.

Details of the deal are not yet available, but the BCTF - the union representing the teachers - recommended that members accept the agreement after being legislated back to work and then forced into mediation with the provincial government.

BCTF President Susan Lambert noted that the agreement provides some modest improvements in terms of teachers' benefits, which, she said were outdated, and in some leave provisions. However, the agreement fails to provide improvements to class size and composition or salaries, and teachers' labour rights continue to be trampled by Bill 22, she said.

For that reason, the BCTF filed notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on June 27 regarding Bill 22.

The agreement will have a short shelf life at two years. Since it includes the past year, it will expire in June 2013.

"After a long and difficult round of negotiations, we were compelled into this process under threat of huge fines and further punitive legislation," said BCTF President Susan Lambert in a press release.

"We have been able to achieve some modest improvements but, above all, we succeeded in getting government (to) take its concession demands off the table."

Lambert told the Vancouver Sun they were forced into the agreement "by a government that does not value education."

Said Premier Christy Clark : "I would like to congratulate the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association and the British Columbia Teachers' Federation on reaching a tentative Memorandum of Settlement.

"This tentative agreement means parents and students can enjoy the summer break and know that when school resumes in the fall there will be certainty in the classroom, with the focus being on the children."

Negotiations on the next contract are scheduled to being in eight months.

More to come.

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